When Tom Vandergriff planted himself outside the office of the head of General Motors in Detroit in the early 1950s to sell the automaker on a small city in North Texas, few would have given him – or the city – much of a chance.
But in 1954, the first car rolled off the assembly line. There have been more vehicles since and there will be more to come. The late Vandergriff’s determination has paid off, not just for Arlington, but for North Texas.
General Motors announced plans in July to spend $1.4 billion to expand and improve its SUV factory in Arlington to meet strong demand for its vehicles.
GM officials said the expansion represents its largest plant investment in the U.S. this year.
The expansion could add 1.2 million square feet to the plant and 589 new jobs, according to a city of Arlington report.
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams applauded the plans, saying that the city has benefited from GM’s support and this investment solidifies its commitment to the community.
“This represents the single largest investment in Arlington’s history,” Williams said.
The new investment follows an all-new $200 million stamping facility added in 2013 and a new habitat wildlife facility completed in 2014.
Demand for GM’s full-size SUVs has been so strong that the plant can’t make them fast enough. The factory has about 3,800 hourly workers on three shifts making the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade. The plant has basically been running flat-out for the past two years, and additional hiring is expected.
General Motors said the upgrades will take about three years to complete but its existing production schedule will be unaffected.
The Arlington Assembly Plant was the company’s first air-conditioned automobile factory. Arlington Assembly, which switched from car to truck assembly in 1997, is the only facility that builds GM’s full-size SUVs – Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. The SUVs now in production are all new and redesigned for the 2015 model year.
The Arlington plant is hardly GM’s only investment in North Texas. GM Financial, the captive finance company and wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, is headquartered in Fort Worth. It is the global provider of auto finance solutions, with operations in the U.S., Canada, China, Europe and Latin America
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
– About General Motors Arlington
– Location: 2525 E. Abram St. • Arlington, TX 76010